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x635

Jersey City EMS may go from Hospital-based to Fire-Based

7 posts in this topic

I don't know how the FD could do it...in NJ, ALS has to be Hospital based.

I personally don't see letting the FD do it as the best move.....the Fire Service on the EAST COAST tends to do EMS improperly or treat EMS as an unwanted division.

Med Center wants $4.5M a year for ambulances  

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

By KEN THORBOURNE

JOURNAL STAFF WRITER  

The asking price to provide ambulance service to the residents of Jersey City is sending city officials into shock.  

Up until last year, the Jersey City Medical Center provided the service at no charge to the city. But now the medical institution is asking for $4.5 million a year to provide a slightly upgraded version of the same service, according to city officials.  

"I was shocked," said Brian O'Reilly, the city's business administrator, about the requested fare hike. "If the bid isn't changed, (Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy) is saying let the fire department carry it out."  

Fire officials weren't reached for comment yesterday to respond to that proposal.  

In previous years, the medical center had charged for ambulance service - as much as $1 million a year in the early 1990s, City Clerk Robert Byrne said. But in 1999, it signed a five-year agreement to provide the service for no cost. That agreement expired at the end of last year.  

The medical center bills patients, usually through their insurance companies, for ambulance service. But some patients can't pay. And earlier this year, JCMC officials presented financial statements to the city showing the service is losing money, O'Reilly said.  

After the five-year contract expired, the medical center continued providing the service at an undisclosed price while the city put the ambulance service contract out to bid, O'Reilly said.  

Eight companies picked up information packets about the bid and five attended a five-hour question-and-answer session about the request-for-proposal, O'Reilly said, but when the deadline for submissions rolled around on June 28, the city received just a single proposal: JCMC's $4.5 million bid.  

O'Reilly said he wasn't sure why JCMC is the only bidder, or why it was asking for so much money. But he said he was told by medical center officials that debt service for their new building on Grand Street is a factor.  

Officials at LibertyHealth, the parent company of the medical center, declined to comment since JCMC is "involved in a competitive bid process."  

City Council members plan to officially reject JCMC's bid at this morning's council meeting on the grounds that it "substantially exceeds the cost estimates for the goods and services" and put it out to bid again.  

If the new bidding process doesn't result in much cheaper rates, Healy wants to explore the possibility of the fire department taking on emergency ambulance duties, O'Reilly said.  

"The city doesn't want be in the (ambulance) business, but we might be forced to be," O'Reilly said.

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In many "cities" throughout NJ, like Perth Amboy, for example, EMS is provided by the local fire department, assuming that they are a paid department. Although ALS has to be hospital-based, it is not uncommon to see the local hospitals contracting with a private corporation to provide ALS services. For example, in Middlesex County, Rural Metro provides ALS service. In Monmouth (my home county), Ocean, Essex, Atlantic, and I think one or two others, ALS is provided by MonOc ( http://www.monoc.org/ ), which is a cooperative between the hospitals, NJ DHSS, local first aid squads, and the community-at-large.

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In Essex County, in the Cities of Newark and East Orange, University Hospital EMS provides the ALS, as well as the BLS and Heavy (Automotive and Technical) Rescue.

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I bet when they figure out what it will cost to get a fire dept EMS system up and running the Jersey Medical Center bid will look very reasonable.

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It is very reasonable, however, with the way the law is structured, some towns may not be able to convert to an FD/EMS partnership. I'm part of Englishtown-Manalapan FAS, which covers 3 fire districts across 2 different municipalities. Going over to an FD system would be a cumbersome task which might even be impossible. However, I think the bigger towns such as JC, Newark, Perth Amboy, and the Oranges could do it. Just as an interesting caveat, in Howell Township, EMS is primarily controlled by the PD, although there are a couple of very small first aid squads in the town as well.

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I don't know how the FD could do it...in NJ, ALS has to be Hospital based.

I personally don't see letting the FD do it as the best move.....the Fire Service on the EAST COAST tends to do EMS improperly or treat EMS as an unwanted division.

I don't know how I missed this thread. It is highly unlikely that the FD will take over the EMS system in JC. Several major companies showed interest in the bidding process but in the end the JCMC/EMS was the only bidder. That speakes volumes. They recently built a new hospoital on propery that was given to them by a previous city admin. and the deal was that they would provide EMS for free. Well the aggreement has apparently expired.

The flip side is the FD for the most part wants nothing to do with EMS. They took over handling first respomder calls from the PD in 98'. They tried to fix a system that wasn't broke. The current (at the time in 98")Mayor said ...hey look I am gonna fre up cops (from medical calls-ESU still handles them)to lock up bad guys and make the FD get off their butts and provide first responder calls. He also secretly promised the FD Union that they would get 3 extra comp days for not fighting the EXTRA work his men would have to do. That never came to fruition. And consequently the FD leaves allot to be desired when it comes to answering first responder calls ( I guess 80 days a year is too much to work). Most people in JC use the ambulance as a Taxi to get to the Hospital. It should take you about a day to realize this.....and the vast maj. of FF's joined the ranks to fight fires not to crawl out of bed at 3 a.m. to through oxygen on someone in the projects. Its no secret. There is also the realization of what the city can and cannot charge for providing BLS. Can they bill for service if its a taxpayer based EMS system aka FD run. Also the JCMC has some of the best EMT's/Medics I have the pleasure of working with...I've been in some crazy situations with them and they are damn good. But the real question is......How do you justify putting an $80K per/yr FF in an ambulance, who doesn't want to this kind of wokr in the first place, when you have an experienced EMS system in place that does the job with a whole lot of heart for $15 per/hr. It would not be beyond JC gov't to force a square peg in a round hole...but if they do the residents will absolutely suffer..it may even kill them.

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Another piece of information I failed to mention was the toll of mechanical failure these engines/trucks responding to what we in our parlance refer to as "oxygen calls". When the FD receives a call they will respond and for whatever reason, policy etc. will not take a cancelation from EMS or the PD. As a result their vehicles take a beating. Very rarely does the FD get on scene before before EMS or the PD. I am not taking a jab at them...its just a fact. If you tune into www.NJ.com and click on scanners you can listen yourself to the PD and the FD. More often than not you will here engine so and so on scene being waved off by JCMC 309 etc. Their runs almost doubled when they took over responding to oxygen calls. But it also has taken its toll on their equipment. Our quarters ( which is the size of an airplane hangar) are located on a huge complex the encompasses the repair shops and in eleven years of service I have never observed so may fire trucks OOS awaiting repairs.....which I can only attribute to there increase in calls for sevice. The majority of their fleet has been replaced in recent years. So I don't believe its an aging equipment issue. IMO the best thing for the city of JC to do is work out a contract with the JCMC. I always enjoy reading what happens to our comrades north of us and would certainly like to hear any opinions on this topic and if your particular city has switched over to an FD based system. And what the eventual outcome has been. X635 and Medic137 have made some good comments. Stay safe.....

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